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Endogenous free trade agreements and the multilateral trading system

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I evaluate in this paper the impact of free trade areas (FTAs) on the world trading system. I use an oligopolistic-political-economy model where the external tariffs of FTA members, as well as the decision to form FTAs, are endogenously determined. In this context, I show that FTAs are primarily beneficial to the multilateral trading system. This conclusion is based, first, upon the finding that FTAs induce their member governments to lower their external tariffs, and to do so deeply enough to enhance trade even between FTA members and non-members. While this ensures gains for the latter, in general FTA members may not gain. I show, however, that governments will endorse only welfare-improving arrangements, in spite of their political motivations; as a result, FTA members benefit from ratified arrangements as well. Finally, I find that FTAs, by reducing the role of special interests criteria in governments' trade regime decisions, also tend to enhance support for further liberalization at the multilateral level.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/37554/

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